Know your stakeholders for an experimentation culture in 5 steps
Knowing your stakeholders is an important place to start if you want your organization to adopt experimentation and validation.
Who are your stakeholders? Do you have a relationship with them? Are they favorable of your change efforts? What are their interests? What do they expect from you? It is essential to map this out.
Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure to complete the training ‘Professional Advisory’ at De Baak (a well-known educational institute in The Netherlands). The analysis explained in this article is one of the many things I learned.
Force field analysis
By conducting a force field analysis, you get a clear picture of what stakeholders are essential for setting up an experimentation culture. It helps you see who is blocking change, who is in favor, and who can help you.
Step 1. Me
Get a piece of paper and a pen, or simply open Slides or a design tool. Then, in the middle of the page, write ‘me.’
Step 2. Your stakeholders
Write down the names of your stakeholders. Next, use a solid line to indicate you have a relationship with that stakeholder, or use a dotted line if there is no relationship.
For those with a solid line, indicate if that person is in favor or against experimentation:
- Add a + if that person is in favor.
- A — if that person is against it.
- And +/- if that person is neutral to the change.
Important: don’t name departments or job titles. Write down the actual name of that person.
In this example, I have a relationship with three stakeholders in favor of experimentation, Joost and Shirley are neutral, and Ronald can form a problem. I have yet to build relationships with Pim and Desiree.
Step 3. Relationships between stakeholders
In this step, you do the same as in step 2, but now for the (most important) stakeholders. This can be useful to see what stakeholders can connect you with others or help you with stakeholders who are against change.
In this case, you can use a dotted line if you don’t know the relationship.
In this example, Tom can help me get connected with both Desiree and Pim. Anouk can help me with Ronald, but I am uncertain about her relationship with Joost. Finally, Lotte can potentially help me make Shirley more in favor.
Step 4. Identify your most critical stakeholders
The most critical stakeholders get priority. Importance can be based on a high position within the company, someone with a lot of influence, or a key player for experimentation.
Indicate the three most critical stakeholders using numbers.
Based on the example I need to work with Ronald, perhaps Anouk can help with that. Tom is an excellent ally with good connections. He can also help me get closer to Desiree.
Step 5. Emphasize with your stakeholders
The fifth and final step is to emphasize with your most important stakeholders. Try to understand their situation fully:
- What are their interests?
- How do they see you?
- What do they expect of you?
- How do they want to be involved in the change process?
- Why are they in favor / against experimentation?
- What is holding them back from experimenting more?
- What are their current goals and obstacles?
With this information, you can craft a plan to get as many stakeholders in favor of experimentation.
Work together to adopt experimentation
If you want your organization to change and adopt a culture of experimentation and validation, you will not succeed at it alone.
Get to know your stakeholders, starting with a force field analysis. Then, with the information you get, craft a plan to create a win-win situation, beginning with the most critical stakeholders.
Find out how you can keep their interest in place while also having them contribute to a culture of experimentation.